Douglas Carswell: Conservative MP for Harwich and Clacton

It's impossible to ignore quite how supine and spineless the House of Commons has become. So much so, MPs themselves felt embarrassed enough to set up a select committee on reform, chaired by Tony Wright MP.

Douglas Carswell: Conservative MP for Harwich and Clacton

The Wright committee has now produced modest proposals, which, if accepted in the New Year, could have some subtle implications on the distribution of power in SW1.

Key is the suggestion that the Commons committee chairmen should be elected by secret ballot of the whole House (i.e. free from manipulation by whips).

If the whole Commons, rather than the executive, got to decide who filled the key Commons posts, the Commons could even do its job of holding the executive to account.

Select committees at present merely examine departmental expenditure, administration and policy. Nothing much changes.

If, however, a select committee chairman owed his or her position to the entire House, this would change.

How long before select committees demanded to approve departmental expenditure? Or veto quango budgets and waste? Or confirm senior appointments? Perhaps even an incremental separation of powers?!

That's why the dark side in SW1, even now, plot to derail Wright's reforms.

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